Source: Journal of Commerce
July 13th 2015
A niche liner service linking Europe with the Great Lakes port of Cleveland has quadrupled its container volume since adding a second monthly sailing, and port officials say the fledgling operation is starting to catch on.
“We’re very happy with how it is going, and we see room for growth. Adding the second monthly sailing has made a huge difference,” said David Gutheil, the port’s vice president, maritime and logistics.
Amsterdam-based Spliethoff Group operates the Cleveland-Europe Express, which was launched last year with a monthly sailing using a multipurpose ship chartered by the Port of Cleveland.
A second ship was added this year. Meanwhile, the port authority’s role has morphed into that of an investor. The port has committed to provide $2.75 million for the service this year, and receives a percentage of the service’s gross revenue.
To support the European service, the port is currently building a warehouse and preparing proposals for two mobile cranes that will be in place next spring for the start of the 2016 Great Lakes shipping season.
During the first half of this year, the service carried 752 containers – 632 westbound and 120 eastbound on 13 voyages, compared with 178 on the six monthly sailings after the service was launched in mid-2014. Volume in 20-foot-equivalent units was no available.
The service provides 13-day transit time and port handling measured in hours, not days, Gutheil said. “We don’t have the congestion that exists at the coastal ports,” he said. “A container can be unloaded from the vessel this afternoon and clear customs and be delivered to the customer tomorrow.”
Customers of the new container service include project cargo shippers, and local importers attracted by the fast door-to-door delivery times. The service is provided with Spliethoff’s multipurpose F-class ships, which have A capacity of about 12,000 deadweight tons.
The Cleveland-Europe Express is the only container service serving the Great Lakes, which operates from April to December and is limited by the 26.5-foot depth of locks between the lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.